USWNT rues missed chances, but still starts World Cup quest on winning note


AUCKLAND, New Zealand — On the one hand, the U.S. women’s national team got exactly what it wanted by beating Vietnam, 3-0, to kick off its quest to become the first team to win three consecutive World Cup titles.

On the other, the Americans know they could have scored several more goals.

The USWNT sent no less than 28 shots toward the Vietnamese goal during a match that was played in front of a pro-U.S. crowd of more than 40,000 at Eden Park. Just seven of those efforts were actually on target. 

So, while it’s hard to quibble too much with a decisive, multi-goal victory in a World Cup and a clean sheet on the other end, coach Vlatko Andonovski and his players also know they’ll have to be far more efficient in front of the net when they meet 2019 runner-up the Netherlands in their second group-stage match Wednesday in Wellington, New Zealand.


“I think it was a good starting point for our team in this tournament,” said forward Sophia Smith, who scored the first two U.S. goals and assisted captain Lindsey Horan for the third. “I also know that we have a lot more that we can give.”

[United States vs. Vietnam highlights: USWNT scores three in opening win]

Vietnam tried to make life difficult for the Americans, setting up in a wholly defensive posture and fouling the U.S. players early and often whenever they began to attack. Almost the entire match took place in the Vietnamese half of the field.

Did the USWNT leave the door open to the Netherlands?

Did the USWNT leave the door open to the Netherlands?

The underdogs didn’t manage a single shot. The only time USWNT keeper Alyssa Naeher touched the ball all game was when one of her teammates passed it back to her. That was fully expected, though.

[World Cup 2023 social media tracker: Best viral moments from USWNT-Vietnam]

Still, the Red, White and Blue had no shortage of golden scoring chances. And they were far from ruthless when most of them came, with Alex Morgan’s missed first-half penalty kick the most glaring example.

“We came here to win the game,” Andonovski said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities — great opportunities — that we created. And that’s something that we’re certainly going to focus on in the lead-up to the next game.”

USWNT’s Sophia Smith reflects on win against Vietnam

USWNT's Sophia Smith reflects on win against Vietnam

Andonovski insisted he wasn’t wringing his hands on the sideline, though.

“I just felt that we needed to be a little bit better and with the final shots,” he said. “Usually [the problem] is the final pass. I would say now it was the final shot. 

“We created opportunities, we had a penalty kick, obviously enough to score a few more goals. But there are lots of positives to take from Game 1 going into Game 2.”

With six World Cup debutants in the lineup, Andonovski acknowledged that first-game jitters could have been a factor. Yet Smith was one of those newbies, while veteran Horan, who is playing in her fourth major international competition (two Olympics and two World Cups), squandered a few open looks.

“I could have scored maybe three or four more,” Horan said. “We’ll go back and look and see what we could have done better.”

USWNT’s Alex Morgan’s penalty kick is denied

USWNT's Alex Morgan's penalty kick is denied

The U.S. can’t spend too much energy ruing the misses, however, especially with three crucial points in the bag. The next game will be here before they know it. 

Spending too much time dwelling on what went wrong rather than what they did well following a dominant victory could be counterproductive.

“I’m not worried about it,” Andonovski said. “I don’t think anyone on the staff is worried. Actually, we’re very, very encouraged by the style of soccer that we displayed today and also encouraged by the opportunities and goals that we scored.”

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

United States

FIFA Women’s World Cup

Get more from FIFA Women’s World Cup Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more

in this topic


Leave a Reply